German Lessons


Common German Mistakes: Wie or Als?

German speakers sometimes make the mistake of using wie (as, like, how) instead of als (than), an error that is a bit puzzling for native English speakers. It is hard for us to imagine saying, for example: "I am taller as you" instead of "I am taller than you," but in German this is a fairly common error. The following Yabla English translations reflect the corrections to als:

Also wir geben hier mehr her, wie [sic, als] die Lufthansa da in der... in der Businessclass.
So we deliver more here than Lufthansa there in the… in the business class.
Captions 45-16, Fluglinien: Niki Air

wie [sic, als] wenn man einfach sagt: „Ich hab' dir 'nen ganz gesunden Salat gemacht“.
than if you simply say, “I’ve made ​​you a very healthy salad.”
Captions 32-33, Kochhaus Berlin: Kochen mit Kindern

The German als should be used like the English "than" when showing contrast, as a function word to indicate an inequality between two things:

Ich sage immer, eher mehr Selbstvertrauen als Talent.
I always say, rather more confidence than talent.
Caption 19, Cassandra Steen: Interview

Wobei man hier eher vom Fallen als vom Fliegen sprechen muss.     
Although in this case it would be more accurate to speak of falling rather than of flying.
Caption 5, Abenteuer und Sport: Fallschirmspringen

Whereas wie is used to relate things that are similar in some way, or to give an example:

Wir haben ein Programm mit Ikonen der Musikgeschichte wie Foreigner oder den Simple Minds.
We have a program with icons of music history like Foreigner or Simple Minds.
Captions 7-8, Das Tollwood-Festival: Bap und Clueso in der Musik-Arena

Da sind die besten Firmen der Welt dabei wie Siemens und andere.
The best companies in the world are there, like Siemens and others.
Caption 40, Berlins regierender Bürgermeister: Pläne für 2014

Further Learning:

Search on Yabla German for the words als and wie to find more of the ways these expressions are used in context.


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